The Dramatic ‘Motion’ of Ying Ning
Desperate to find the woman sleeping with her husband, the main character of Ying Ning’s ‘Wu Giong Dong’ (‘Perpetual Motion’) hosts an innocent get-together with her closest friends with the hope that a day of exotic cuisine, cocktails and colored cigarettes will elicit the uncomfortable truth.
Ying’s very comic yet tragic work was the fourth film presented by the Film and Video Center this spring and strengthened the diversity of independent films already shown at UC Irvine. As the film progressed, the audience caught a glimpse of the different realities successful women endure behind their rich facades, stern demeanors and seemingly perfect lifestyles.
Ying wastes no time capturing viewers’ attention by depicting Niuniu (Hung Huang) rummaging through her husband’s office and finding a romantic letter filled with provocative language that strongly stirs her jealous emotions. Not only does the printed e-mail prove her husband’s unfaithfulness, it also includes evidence that the author knows her personally. She then makes it her mission to interrogate her girlfriends one-by-one the night before Chinese New Year to see who is after her famous literary husband.
‘This is the kind of film that accomplishes our mission to intellectually challenge the audience outside the circuit of commercial cinema,’ said FVC director Kyung Hun Kim of the screening.
Indeed, the audience is challenged by visuals in some of the scenes regarding the character’s pursuit of her husband’s mistress. The first comes when the cook of the house wields a knife while two chickens poke at each other unknowingly. A scene later, the movie comes back to the headless body of one of the chickens that suddenly writhes in a directionless flutter of depleted life.
When shown at a dinner table, the quartet is initially hesitant about eating chicken’s feet marinated in flowers. It is only when Lala (Liu Sola) sensually handles and tastes each cerebral-colored claw that the other three pounce like hyenas in a series of extreme close-ups of biting, ripping and sucking meat and bones in what is the longest, most beautiful scene in the entire film.
Ying displays her artistry not only with long, undisturbed shots, but also with her spontaneous filming. In one scene, Lala is alone and passes the time gracefully playing her hands to a symphony inside her head. The shot made the final cut as a mystical transition scene where her movements combined seamlessly with the film score. But this was not the only impromptu scene; the movie had no set script, only an outline that described the time of day: morning, lunch, tea time and night.
Sola, an internationally established composer, screenwriter and now actress, was present for the screening and commented on the director’s choice to go without written dialogue.
‘That’s great for me because I didn’t need to remember any words. I was able to just act natural.’
‘Perpetual Motion’ is a dark comedy that illustrates that life is not always what it seems.